Russian cargo shipment lost in space

Soyuz launch with Progress
A Russian Soyuz rocket rises from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, sending a robotic Progress cargo ship into space. The ship was lost minutes later. (Roscosmos Photo)

A robotic Russian Progress spaceship and its cargo were lost today, minutes after its launch to the International Space Station from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome.

Russia’s Roscosmos space agency reported the failure of the mission’s Soyuz rocket and the fiery re-entry of the Progress craft over mountainous terrain in Russia’s republic of Tuva, in southern Siberia.

“Most of the fragments were burned in the dense layers of the atmosphere,” Roscosmos said, citing preliminary information. That suggests some of the debris fell to the ground, but no injuries were reported.

The uncrewed Progress was carrying more than two and a half tons of food, fuel and supplies for the space station. NASA said the rocket anomaly arose during third-stage separation, which apparently occurred earlier than scheduled. Russian space officials said the craft was operating normally until 383 seconds into the ascent, when it stopped transmitting data.

Roscomos said a commission has been set up to investigate the failure.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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